AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Composting - Cambridge Style DATE: 5/12/2008 09:19:00 PM ----- BODY:
Many farmers as well as home gardeners compost. This process converts food scraps and organic “matter” (leaves, weeds, etc) into soil. Oxygen, worms and heat decompose all this from recognizable things to soil in a matter months. The soil is rich in nutrients and fortifies a garden depleted by growing plants. Ah, what a cycle – We take what the earth gives us, return it back when we’re done and then we get back. Now, more than ever, we think about reducing our carbon footprint, and what better way than to compost. Instead of filling land-fills with our trash (and which rots and creates methane gas), we convert it to nutritious soil so that we can continue growing without artificial garden enhancers. And as an added bonus, it’s cheaper to compost ($95/ton) than hauling trash ($97/ton).

Cambridge has just launched a pilot composting program. While it’s not as evolved as San Francisco, it’s definitely a start. I picked up my composting bin at the DPW, which thankfully is just 1 block from my house. Unlike San Francisco, where the compost is picked up with the trash and recycling, I must drop off my composting at the DPW during open hours.

When I returned home, I promptly filled up the green 2-gallon bin with left-overs in my fridge that had been, em, er… aging. This is going to be a challenge. Less than an hour into the program, I’m already back at the DPW to unload. The obvious downside of this program is that I don’t want to run over to the drop-off center once a day.

I can also get a composting bin from the city. It's not particularly attractive and, unlike the bins available at Urban Gardener, the city-subsidized bins require heavy mixing. It’s a pretty basic contraption. The compost goes in the top, and drawers pull out of the bottom to get at the good soil. On the plus side, it's 1/3 the price of the "Tumbler" and require much less space. Two neighbors have used these... one still composts afer several seasons... the other gave up.

Given how quickly I accumulate compostables, I think I will try my own bin. Stay tuned…

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:5/13/2008 11:49:00 PM How great that Cambridge has started a composting program! Since moving out of the city, we've had a pretty large compost pile going all the time. We take the passive approach -- toss everything on the pile, and wait for nature to take its course. I have a 26-quart restaurant supply pail in the kitchen that we use to haul the compost out to the pile. Some weeks, we fill that pail two or three times. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:5/14/2008 06:49:00 AM I was told that it takes 3-4 months for compost to do it's thing if you turn the mix, and 1 year if you let nature take its course. What have you found with the timing? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:5/14/2008 09:44:00 AM It definitely takes a year if you use the passive method. Basically our way is to have two piles, one more advanced than the other. Each spring we scrape off the uncomposted material from one pile onto the other pile, and sift the compost that has formed at the bottom of the first pile. We're lucky to have plenty of outdoor space for a double pile. We actually have some neighbors who have several compost piles going, but two seems to work for us.

When we lived in the city, we never did compost -- couldn't figure out a good way to manage it in our second floor apartment, or how to store it in our tiny backyard without attracting rodents. I like the idea of the Cambridge system, but we'd be making many trips to the DPW. Honestly, if we lived more than a block away, I'm not sure we'd do it. ----- --------